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Cooking for a Delicious Life: A Lauren Groveman Kitchen Instructional Video Series

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Chicken Soup with Vegetables

Special Equipment

  • 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with tight-fitting lid
  • 12- to 16-quart heavy-bottomed soup-pot with tight-fitting lid

For poaching the chicken:

  • 3 whole chickens (3 to 3 1/2 pounds each), halved down the back with the necks and gizzards (no liver)
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, scrubbed, root end removed, and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced with leaves
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
  • 1 parsnip, scrubbed and sliced
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • Cold water to cover

For the soup:

  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • About 3 Leeks, Trimmed, Cleaned and Thinly Sliced, to measure 3 cups
  • 3 stalks celery, cleaned, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices
  • 4 large carrots, scrubbed and sliced on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices
  • 1 or 2 peeled parsnips, scrubbed and sliced on the diagonal, or 1 turnip, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 6 quarts Chicken Stock or “doctored” canned chicken broth (see instructions)
  • 3 ripe Tomatoes, Peeled, Seeded and Coarsely Chopped
  • 1 cup sweet fresh green peas or thawed frozen peas
  • 2 to 4 cups firmly packed, well-rinsed, trimmed and shredded spinach leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) To poach the chicken: Rinse and dry the chicken pieces and gizzards (reserve livers for another use). Place the chicken and all of the remaining poaching ingredients in an 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and cover the solids with cold water. Cover pot and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to very low and simmer chickens until tender but not dry, about 30 minutes. Use a slotted utensil to remove the chicken to a large bowl to allow the pieces to become cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the chicken, tear into chunks and set aside for the soup. Return the chicken carcasses, including skin and all other parts, to the pot of poaching ingredients and use to replenish your supply of stock for use at a later date (see the note following this recipe).

2) To sweat the soup vegetables: Melt the butter in a 10-inch deep-sided skillet over medium heat. While it melts, tear off a sheet of waxed paper (large enough to cover the bottom of the pot) and brush some butter on one side of the paper. Stir the leeks, carrots, celery and parsnips or turnips into the melted butter. Toss to combine to lightly coat the vegetables with butter, and then place the greased side of the waxed paper directly on top. Reduce heat to very low and let vegetables sweat until wilted and only slightly tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

3) To simmer the vegetables: In an 8 to 10-quart soup-pot, bring stock to a boil and reduce heat so stock just simmers. Add the sweated vegetables to the stock and simmer (covered) over very low heat until crisp tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

4) To assemble the soup: Stir the chicken chunks into the soup pot along with the chopped tomatoes, peas, shredded spinach, if using, and chopped parsley. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

5) To serve: Reheat the soup gently, but thoroughly, until very hot. Taste for seasoning and adjust before serving. Ladle piping hot soup and vegetables into warmed bowls. Serve immediately.

6) To replenish your stock supply: Return the poaching mixture with the chicken bones to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until the stock is rich with a golden color, 1 to 2 hours. As stock simmers, occasionally press hard on the solids to extract all of their goodness.

Low-Fat Variation: Although the addition of butter will produce a richer tasting soup, you can omit it entirely by adding the fresh vegetables directly to the stock instead of sweating them.

Timing is Everything:

  • The stock can (and should) be made way ahead and, after removing the fat, be stored in the freezer.
  • Any leftover soup can be frozen in securely covered, heavy-duty freezer containers for several months. (Be sure to label the containers with both the date and contents.) Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat very gently.
  • The vegetables, as well as the poached chicken for the soup can be prepared (assembled) a day ahead and kept in separate, well-covered bowls, in the refrigerator.
  • The soup can be fully assembled 1 day ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated. To refrigerate the soup in the pot, pull a clean kitchen towel over the top and then apply the lid. The towel will prevent any accumulated condensation from falling into the soup and diluting the flavor.

Watch the Video.

Comments (0)

Puree of Asparagus Soup, With Roasted Pepper Coulis

If you love asparagus, this soup is just delicious and, when served with a mixed green salad that’s lightly dressed with a perky-tasting vinaigrette, it makes a fabulous lunch or a casual supper. I suggest using homemade stock, which is basically salt-free and, irrespective of the type, always has so much more flavor than the canned version. That way, you’ll also end up needing less help from things like salt, to get the most intensely satisfying taste. Most important, if using a canned broth, you should only add more salt after tasting the fully assembled soup base. And make sure to puree the solids until very smooth which makes the texture just luscious.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

And, to learn more about how asparagus grows and some other ways to prepare and serve this wonderful vegetable, go to Food Matters A to Z. Enjoy.

Special Equipment

  • 4-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan with lid
  • Food processor: to puree soup solids and a mini one for making red pepper coulis
  • Blender: if not using a food processor to puree soup solids or to make the red pepper coulis
  • Hand-held stick blender: an alternative to using a food processor to puree soup solids

For the croutons :

  • 16 slices (1/2-inch thick) best-quality French bread
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • About 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the soup:

  • 3 large bunches asparagus (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed well and hard bottoms cut off and discarded
  • Salt, as needed, for blanching the asparagus
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 3 large), use the whites and light green
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium Idaho potato, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups best-quality chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 generous tablespoon fresh leaves
  • 1/4 cup thick crème fraiche or heavy cream (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Minced chives, to serve

For the red pepper coulis:

  • 2 large red bell peppers, roasted until very tender, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cloves cooked garlic; from Garlic Confit (optional)

1)To make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 375oF. Place the bread slices on a wire rack, over a shallow baking sheet and bake the slices until light golden on both sides, about 20 minutes, turning once. Remove the sheet from the oven and brush each slice evenly, on both sides, with the oil, then sprinkle the tops only, with a little parmesan cheese and some black pepper to taste. Place back into the oven and bake the slices for 5 minutes, then turn the oven off and let the croutons sit there until perfectly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes more. Let the croutons become completely cool, on their rack, before storing them in an airtight tin until needed.

2)To blanch the asparagus: Tie each bunch, in two places, with kitchen twine. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, and add some salt. Submerge the asparagus bundles and boil them until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, put a large bowl of ice water on your counter and, when the asparagus are ready, transfer the bundles to the ice water. When cold, remove the asparagus from the water, and pat them dry. Cut off their tips and reserve them separately. Cut the remaining stalks into 2-inch lengths and set them aside for now.

3)To assemble the soup base: Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat. Tear off a sheet of wax paper and brush one side with some of the melted butter. Stir the leeks and garlic into the saucepan, coating them evenly with butter. Lay the greased side of the paper directly on top of the vegetables, lower the heat and let them sweat gently, until wilted, about 10 minutes. Discard the paper and stir in the sliced asparagus stalks, diced potato, stock, and dried thyme. Bring the liquid to a full boil, over medium heat, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the vegetables until tender and the stock is nicely flavored by the asparagus, about 20 minutes.

Place a large wire sieve over a large bowl. Strain the soup through the sieve and reserve the solids. Puree the solids, in batches with some of the liquid, in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or in a heavy-duty blender, until very smooth. (If using a regular blender, it’s not safe to fill the container more than half full with a hot substance, so, if necessary, do this in several small batches.) As each batch is processed, empty the puree into another bowl and continue until you’ve finished. You’ll end up with one bowl of puree and another, of stock. After rinsing and drying the original saucepan, pour the pureed vegetables back into the pot and add the crème fraiche or cream, if using, along with enough stock to create the desired thickness. (I usually use all of it.) Freeze any remaining stock for another use, but label it “stock, flavored with asparagus.” Season the soup well with salt and black pepper to taste.
(Alternatively, if using a hand-held stick blender, remove a cup or so of the liquid and, insert the stick blender directly into the pot of cooked solids and surrounding liquid. Puree the soup until totally smooth and, when done, add the reserved stock to correct the consistency, if needed.)

4) To make the red pepper coulis: Place the roasted peppers in either a blender or a small food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Add the oil, red pepper flakes (if using), and garlic. Puree the mixture until smooth, then add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the coulis to a bowl or funnel it into a plastic squeeze bottle, snipping the tip so the opening is 1/4-inch wide.

5) To serve : Reheat the soup slowly, over low heat, until piping hot throughout. When almost ready to serve, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet, over medium heat and, when hot and bubbling, add the reserved asparagus tips. Cook the tips, stirring occasionally, until hot and the edges are beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Place one or two croutons in the bottom of either warmed wide soup plates or deep crocks and ladle the soup on top. Add a generous spoonful of asparagus tips, then spoon in or decoratively squiggle on some of the red pepper coulis. Scatter just a few minced chives on top and serve the soup right away.

Timing is Everything:

  • The croutons can be made two days ahead and, once completely cool, stored at room temperature in an air-tight tin. Leftovers are fine for several days.
  • The soup base can be fully assembled two days ahead and kept refrigerated, securely covered.
  • The soup can also be frozen for several months, when stored in heavy-duty labeled freezer containers. Under these circumstances, however, add the blanched tips directly to the assembled soup base, at the end, without sautéing them.
  • The coulis and the croutons can be made up to two days ahead. Keep the coulis chilled, but bring it to room temperature before serving. Keep the croutons at room temperature, in an airtight tin.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the croutons:

  • 16 slices (1/2-inch thick) best-quality French bread
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • About 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the soup:

  • 3 large bunches asparagus (3 1/2 pounds), rinsed well and hard bottoms cut off and discarded
  • Salt, as needed, for blanching the asparagus
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 3 large), use the whites and light green
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium Idaho potato, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups best-quality chicken stock or vegetable stock (or use low-sodium canned or boxed broth)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 generous tablespoon fresh leaves
  • 1/4 cup thick crème fraiche or heavy cream (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Minced chives, to serve

For the red pepper coulis:

  • 2 large red bell peppers, roasted until very tender, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cloves cooked garlic; from Garlic Confit (optional)

From the produce aisle:

  • 3 ½ pounds asparagus
  • 3 large leeks
  • 2 heads garlic (plus more if making garlic confit)
  • 1 Idaho potato
  • Chives
  • 2 large red bell peppers (or buy a jar of large roasted peppers or pimentos)
  • Fresh thyme (only if not using dried)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Low sodium canned or boxed chicken or vegetable broth (only if not using homemade, which is preferable)

From the spice section:

  • Crushed pepper flakes
  • Dried thyme (only if not using fresh)

From the dairy case:

  • Butter
  • Crème Fraiche
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or a high-quality substitute)

From the fresh bakery section:

  • 1 French bread baguette

Comments (5)

Hearty with Ham, Double Split Pea Soup

Here’s a perfect way to use leftover baked ham. This soup is incredibly substantial and richly flavored. Served with a salad and a bowl of Crispy Garlic Croutons, or a basket of hot Baking Powder Biscuits, it makes a robust lunch or Sunday supper.

Although this recipe can easily be halved, I purposely made it large because this soup freezes so well. The correct consistency of pea soup is strictly personal. I’ve seen pea soup made so thick that it almost needed a fork! I prefer a soup of medium thickness to allow the additional whole green peas, diagonally sliced carrots and chunks of smoked ham to float about on my spoon. But feel free to “fork it up,” if you must!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment:

  • 12- to 16-quart heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid
  • 2-cup ladle
  • Two 8-quart bowls
  • Food processor, heavy-duty blender or a hand-held immersion blender (also called a “stick blender”)

For the soup:

  • 7 quarts (28 cups) rich Chicken Stock
  • 2 pounds dried green split peas, rinsed and
    drained
  • 1 pound dried yellow split peas, rinsed and
    drained
  • Meaty ham bone (shank) or 1 or 2 ham hocks, thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed
  • 12 carrots, peeled
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced leeks
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups diced smoked ham
  • 1 pound frozen peas, thawed
  • Suggested accompaniment: Crispy Garlic Croutons or Baking Powder Biscuit

1) To simmer the split peas: In a 12- to 16-quart heavy-bottomed stockpot, bring chicken stock to a simmer, stir in green and yellow split peas and add ham bone or hocks. Bring back to a simmer, cover pot and cook over low heat for 1 hour.
Note: If using smoked ham hocks, blanch twice, uncovered, in two separate batches of boiling water, for 2 minutes each. Drain and proceed.

2) To prepare the carrots: Cut 8 of the carrots into irregular 1/3-inch slices and slice the remaining 4 carrots diagonally and keep separate. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil and place a large bowl of ice water on your counter. Add a little salt and the 4 diagonally sliced carrots and boil until crisp tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain carrots and immediately refresh them in the bowl of ice water, swishing them around with your hand until cold. Drain slices well and set aside.

3) To sweat the vegetables: Melt butter in a 10- to 12-inch deep-sided skillet. Tear off a piece of waxed paper large enough to cover the interior of the skillet and brush some of the butter on 1 side of the waxed paper. When butter is bubbling, stir in the onions, leeks, garlic, celery and the 8 sliced carrots into the skillet, coating vegetables well with butter. Add the thyme and oregano and place the greased side of the waxed paper directly on top of the vegetables. Sweat the vegetables over very low heat, occasionally lifting the waxed paper to stir and redistribute them, for 15 to 20 minutes.

4) To finish cooking the soup base: After the split peas have simmered for 1 hour, add the sweated vegetables to the stockpot and cover the pot securely. Simmer the vegetables, over low heat, for 1 hour more. Remove from heat and remove the ham bone or hocks from pot to become cool enough to handle.

5) To strain and puree the soup: Ladle the soup, in batches, into a large medium-mesh wire strainer set within an 8-quart bowl. As the strainer becomes full, place the solids into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or a blender (see the safety tip at the end of this recipe). Puree each batch of solids with a little of the stock until smooth, then transfer the pureed mixture to another 8-quart bowl. You will have finally 1 large bowl of stock and 1 large bowl of pureed vegetables. (Alternatively, keep the entire soup mixture in the original pot but remove 2 cups of the liquid. Use a hand-held immersion blender to puree all the solids and, when perfectly smooth, add as much of the reserved liquid as needed to reach the desired consistency.)

6) To assemble the finished soup: Pour the vegetable puree into empty stockpot and add enough stock to create the desired consistency. Remove any meat from the cooked ham bone or hocks; discard the bone. Add to soup salt to taste and lots of freshly ground pepper along with diced ham (see note), thawed peas and reserved blanched carrots. Cool uncovered to allow any grease to rise to the top; discard the grease. Place the amount that you will be serving in a smaller pot; divide the rest among labeled heavy-duty freezer containers and place in the freezer.
Note: If using ham steaks, heat a large skillet over high heat with a couple of tablespoons of butter (full or Clarified). When the fat is melted and hot, add one ham steak and sear it in the pan, over high heat, until hot and turning golden on both sides, turning once. Place on a plate, carefully wipe out the skillet and do this same procedure with the remaining ham steak. When cool, cut each steal into dice.

7) To serve: Cover and reheat soup gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, until piping hot. Ladle into warmed, hefty wide soup mugs or deep bowls.Timing is Everything:

  • All the vegetables can be prepared and ready to cook 1 day ahead. Store them in the refrigerator in separate, well-covered bowls.
  • The stock can, and should, be made way ahead and stored in the freezer.
  • In addition to freezing, this soup may be fully assembled up to 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated well covered. If refrigerating the soup in a pot, pull a clean kitchen towel tightly across the top of the uncovered pot and then apply the lid. The towel will prevent any accumulated condensation from the interior of the lid from falling into the soup and diluting the flavor.

Reduced-Fat Variation

Although the flavor of this soup will be richest when using butter, to reduce the overall amount of saturated fat, omit butter and sweat vegetables in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup additional chicken stock. Alternatively, use half butter and half olive oil.

Safety Tip on Pureeing Hot Mixtures

When pureeing hot mixtures (especially in the blender), never fill the container more than half full or you run the risk of causing an explosive reaction when you turn on the motor. The heat creates a buildup of pressure in the container, causing the food to shoot up and over the top when blending. This can cause serious burns–not to mention the fact that you’ll be cleaning pea soup off your walls and ceiling for the next week!


SHOPPING LIST
At-a-Glance Reminder of IngredientsFor the soup :

  • 7 quarts (28 cups) rich Chicken Stock or low-sodium canned or boxed chicken broth
  • 2 pounds dried green split peas, rinsed and
    drained
  • 1 pound dried yellow split peas, rinsed and
    drained
  • Meaty ham bone (shank) or 1 or 2 ham hocks, thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed
  • 12 carrots, peeled
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced leeks
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups diced smoked ham
  • 1 pound frozen peas, thawed
  • Suggested accompaniment: Crispy Garlic Croutons or Baking Powder Biscuits

From the supermarket shelf :

  • Canned or boxed chicken broth, only if not using homemade
  • 2 pounds dried green split peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pound dried yellow split peas, rinsed and drained

From the produce aisle :

  • Carrots
  • Yellow onions
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Leeks

From the butcher and/or the deli department:

  • Meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 2 large ham steaks or smoked ham, sliced ¾ inch thick, for dicing

From the spice case:

  • Dried thyme
  • Dried oregano

From the dairy case:

  • Butter

From the frozen food section:

  • Frozen peas

For suggested accompaniments: See specific recipes.

Comments (12)

Cream of Mushroom Soup Concentrate

Rich soup made from homemade concentrate

If you like that stuff in a can, you’ll love my homemade version of the following mushroom soup “concentrate.” Whether making soup or gravy, all you do is reconstitute the concentrate over gentle heat, with enough added liquid (stock, water, milk or light cream) until you’ve reached the desired consistency. When satisfied with the texture, bring up the temperature to piping hot, and you’re good to go. See my notes at the end of this recipe, about making a larger batch for freezing. So, now you can forget the can and truly taste the mushrooms!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool or a piece of equipment or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, go to Kitchen Management to get more information.

Store your concentrate in a tighly lidded container

Special Equipment

  • Heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan

For the mushroom soup concentrate:

  • 1 ½ cups dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated beef bouillon paste, like “Better than Bouillon” (optional)
  • 1 cup light cream or milk (even nonfat)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 10 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • To reconstitute: per 1 ½ cups of the assembled concentrate: Add about 1 cup of either stock or water (choose from vegetable, chicken, beef stock) or mix milk and stock

1. To reconstitute the dried mushrooms: Place the dried porcinis in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let the mushrooms reconstitute for 10 to 15 minutes, or until supple. Lift the now supple mushrooms out of the flavorful liquid and retain 1 generous cup of mushrooms and 1 strained cup of the liquid. Chop the mushrooms coarsely and set them aside next to the reserved liquid. Save any remaining reconstituted mushrooms and liquid to use in another recipe.

2. To assemble the soup concentrate: Measure the cream or milk and pour ¼ cup of it into another small bowl. Stir the cornstarch into the smaller amount of milk and set it next to the reserved porcini liquid, for now. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan and, when hot and bubbling, add the shallots and chopped fresh mushrooms. Cook the vegetables over high heat until the shallots are softened, very fragrant, and the mushrooms give off their liquid. Stir the flour into the wet vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir the larger amount of milk into the pot along with the porcini liquid and chopped porcinis and bring the mixture to a brisk bubble, over medium heat. Stir in the bouillon paste, if using. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Give the cornstarch mixture a good stir and pour it into the pot. Stir the mixture as it comes to a simmer, add the thyme and let the soup base cook, stirring frequently, uncovered, for 5 minutes (the soup will become thicker and will take on a slight sheen). Season the soup base with salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the stove and pour into another bowl. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the mushroom soup concentrate (to prevent a skin from forming), and let the mixture cool. Refrigerate or freeze for future use. If planning to freeze to use in a recipe that calls for “canned” mushroom soup, divide the concentrate into 1 ¼ cups increments, since that’s the size of a standard can.

3. To reconstitute the concentrate, to use as soup: To each cup of soup base, add 3/4 cup of any kind of stock or just use water. After reheating, if still too thick, add a bit more liquid (use stock, light cream, milk or water)

Timing is Everything

  • The mushroom soup concentrate can be made, cooled and stored in the refrigerator for 5 days, well covered. Alternatively, it can be frozen for 6 months. To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat gently, but fully, adding as much stock, milk or water, as needed to reach the desired consistency.

About freezing the mushroom soup concentrate: If you make the concentrate and freeze it, don’t be concerned if, after thawing, it looks somewhat curdled. This will correct itself, once fully reheated. I would suggest, however, for the most homogenous texture, after thawing, when a recipe suggests that you use the canned soup “straight” (without liquid) you should stir the measured concentrate, over low heat, with a minimum of ¼ cup liquid (or even crème fraiche), until the texture evens out. And, for best color retention, I always add an extra dose of fresh thyme when reheating, since freezing seems to muddy its green color and quiet its delicate flavor.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated beef bouillon paste, like “Better than Bouillon” (optional)
  • 1 cup light cream or milk (even nonfat)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 10 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • To reconstitute: per 1 ½ cups of the assembled concentrate: Add about 1 cup of either stock or water (choose from vegetable, chicken, beef stock) or mix milk and stock

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Dried porcini mushrooms
  • Beef bouillon paste (optional)
  • Chicken or vegetable broth (only if not using homemade Chicken Stock)

From the produce section:

  • Button or cremini mushrooms
  • Shallot
  • Fresh thyme

From the dairy case:

  • Butter
  • Light cream or milk

From the spice section:

  • Salt
  • pepper

Comments (0)

Chicken in the Pot with Matzoh Balls

Here lies my recipe for perfectly delicious chicken soup, filled with vegetables and tender poached chicken. And, of course, let’s not forget the renowned fluffy, pudgy dumplings affectionately called “matzoh balls.” Over the years, my rendition of chicken soup has soothed more colds than I can count and warmed many winter weekends. This recipe also highlights the incredible benefit of always having a supply of chicken stock in your freezer.

My students often ask me, “Why is your soup richer in flavor and color than mine?” Well, the secret is simple. When making chicken soup, I poach my chicken separately and begin my soup with a base of already prepared and defatted rich Chicken Stock from my freezer. If you start your soup with plain water, a big raw hen and vegetables, you will undoubtedly end up serving dry chicken in pale-colored greasy broth, loaded with soggy vegetables and excess fat. But the biggest bonus of this recipe is that, at the same time you are making the fresh soup, you are also replenishing your supply of stock. I hope my kosher friends will forgive me for loving butter in this classic Jewish soup; they can always use schmaltz or follow my low-fat (non-dairy) variation.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool or a piece of equipment or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, go to Kitchen Management for more information.

If you check out my Chicken Stock video and Chicken Soup video, you’ll learn why (and see how) to make a few different types of stock in advance so it’s always available in the freezer. This is really the only way to, at whim, get a great bowl of chicken soup on the table–in a hurry!.

Special Equipment

  • 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with tight-fitting lid
  • 12- to 16-quart heavy-bottomed stockpot with tight-fitting lid
  • Batter whisk, for when making the matzoh balls (optional—use a wide blending fork as a substitute)
  • 8-quart blanching pot with built-in strainer (optional), for matzoh balls
  • Medium-sized ice cream scoop, for matzoh balls

For poaching the chicken:

  • 3 whole chickens (3 to 3 1/2 pounds each), halved down the back with the necks and gizzards (no liver)
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, scrubbed, root end removed, and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced with leaves
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
  • 1 parsnip, scrubbed and sliced
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • Cold water to cover

For the soup:

  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter or Rendered Chicken Fat (see recipe)
  • About 3 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced (see recipe), to measure 3 cups
  • 3 stalks celery, cleaned, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices
  • 4 large carrots, scrubbed and sliced on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices
  • 1 or 2 peeled parsnips, scrubbed and sliced on the diagonal, or 1 turnip, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 6 quarts Chicken Stock or “doctored” canned chicken broth (see instructions)
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sweet fresh green peas or thawed frozen peas
  • 2 to 4 cups firmly packed, well-rinsed, trimmed and shredded spinach leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • My Best Matzoh Balls (see recipe)

1) To poach the chicken: Rinse and dry the chicken pieces and gizzards (reserve livers for another use). Place the chicken and all of the remaining poaching ingredients in an 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and cover the solids with cold water. Cover pot and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to very low and simmer chickens until tender but not dry, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken to a large bowl to allow the pieces to become cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the chicken, tear into chunks and set aside for the soup. Return the chicken carcasses, including skin and all other parts, to the pot of poaching ingredients and use to replenish your supply of stock for use at a later date (see step #6).

2) To sweat the soup vegetables: Melt the butter in a 10-inch deep-sided skillet over medium heat. While it melts, tear off a sheet of waxed paper (large enough to cover the bottom of the pot) and brush some butter on one side of the paper. Stir the leeks, carrots, celery and parsnips or turnips into the melted butter. Toss to combine to lightly coat the vegetables with butter, then place the greased side of the waxed paper directly on top. Reduce heat to very low and let vegetables sweat until wilted and only slightly tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

3) To simmer the vegetables: In a 12- to 16-quart stockpot, bring stock to a boil and reduce heat so stock just simmers. Add the sweated vegetables to the stock and simmer (covered) over very low heat until crisp tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

3) To assemble the soup: Stir the chicken chunks into the soup pot along with the chopped tomatoes, peas, shredded spinach, if using, and chopped parsley. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Shape and simmer the matzoh balls as directed, and ease them into the soup until ready to reheat and serve.

5) To serve: Reheat the soup gently but thoroughly until very hot. Taste for seasoning and adjust before serving. Place a matzoh ball in the center of each warmed soup bowl and ladle a generous amount of soup and vegetables over and around the dumpling. Serve piping hot.

6) To replenish your stock supply: Return the poaching mixture with the chicken bones to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until the stock is rich with a golden color, 1 to 2 hours. As stock simmers, occasionally press hard on the solids to extract all of their goodness.

Low-Fat Variation:

Although the addition of butter will produce a richer tasting soup, you can omit it entirely by adding the fresh vegetables directly to the stock instead of sweating them.

Timing is Everything

  • All of the vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead of cooking and stored in the refrigerator in separate, well-covered bowls.
  • The soup can be fully assembled 1 day ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated. To refrigerate the soup in the pot, pull a clean kitchen towel over the top and then apply the lid. The towel will prevent any accumulated condensation from falling into the soup and diluting the flavor.
  • Any leftover soup and matzoh balls, if making them, can be frozen together in securely covered heavy-duty freezer containers for several months. (Be sure to label the containers with both the date and contents.) Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat gently, being careful not to overcook the already cooked soup ingredients.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For poaching the chickens:

  • 3 whole chickens (3 to 3 1/2 pounds each), halved down the back with the necks and gizzards (no liver)
  • Extra boney chicken pieces (backs, wing tips, feet, etc), optional
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, scrubbed, root end removed, and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced with leaves
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
  • 1 parsnip, scrubbed and sliced
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • Cold water to cover

For the soup:

  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter or Rendered Chicken Fat (see recipe)
  • About 3 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced (see recipe), to measure 3 cups
  • 3 stalks celery, cleaned, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices
  • 4 large carrots, scrubbed and sliced on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices
  • 1 or 2 peeled parsnips, scrubbed and sliced on the diagonal, or 1 turnip, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 6 quarts (24 cups) Chicken Stock or “doctored” canned chicken broth
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sweet fresh green peas or thawed frozen peas
  • 2 cups firmly packed, well-rinsed, trimmed and shredded spinach leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

From the meat department:

  • 3 whole chickens
  • Additional boney pieces (backs, feet, wing tips, etc), optional
  • Chicken fat for the matzoh balls (unless making your own Rendered Chicken Fat)

From the produce section:

  • 1 large yellow onion for the poaching pot, plus one yellow onion, to flavor the chicken fat, while rendering
  • 1 head celery
  • 1 bunch carrots
  • 1 bunch parsnips
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 3 large leeks
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 3 generous cups fresh peas, still in their shells (to yield 1 cup peas)
  • 1 bag fresh spinach

From the frozen food section:

  • 1 box frozen peas (unless using fresh)

From the dairy case:

  • Butter

From the spice section:

  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Whole black peppercorns

Comments (3)

Apple-Scented, Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Savory, with just the perfect hint of sweetness from the apples, and crunch from the toasted pumpkin seeds, this soothing soup is one destined to sway even the most devout curry-haters. The easiest way to remove the skins from squash is with a strong vegetable peeler. If you’re serving vegetarians, just omit the poached chicken and substitute vegetable stock for the one flavored with poultry. If you have some leftover cooked basmati rice in the fridge, reheat it in the microwave (add one tablespoon of water for every cup of rice) and place a generous spoonful in the bowl, just before ladling the piping hot soup on top.

If at any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • 10-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid
  • Sturdy vegetable peeler

For the poached chicken:

  • 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, scrubbed, root end removed, and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced with leaves
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
  • 1 parsnip, scrubbed and sliced
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 whole chickens (3 pounds each), halved down the back, reserving the necks and giblets (no liver)

For the soup:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced to measure 6 generous cups (use the whites and light green)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (if desired, leave in some seeds for extra heat)
  • 2 large butternut squash (about 5 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
  • 2 medium-large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 generous tablespoons curry powder (preferably Madras)
  • 3 1/2 quarts (14 cups) Chicken Stock or doctored, best-quality, low-sodium canned broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) thick crème fraiche
  • 10 ounces frozen peas, thawed

For the toasted pepitas garnish:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup raw hulled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Salt, to taste

1) To poach the chicken: Place the onion, celery, carrots, parsnip, peppercorns, chicken and giblets into a 6-quart heavy-bottomed pot and cover with cold water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to very low and gently cook the chickens, just until tender, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted utensil, remove the chicken to a large bowl so it can become cool enough to handle. Set the saucepan with the poaching liquid aside, for now.

2) To start the soup base: Melt the butter in a 10-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and brush one side of a sheet of wax paper with some of the butter. Stir the onions, leeks and garlic into the butter and lay the greased side of the paper directly on top of the vegetables. Reduce the heat to low and sweat the vegetables, until softened and somewhat reduced, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the paper. Season the vegetables with salt and black pepper to taste, then stir in the jalapenos, squash, apples, potatoes and the curry. When well combined, add 3 1/2 quarts of chicken stock (not the poaching liquid) and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer the vegetables, covered, until very tender, 35 to 45 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms: Heat a large 12 to 14-inch deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook them, stirring occasionally, until all their released juices evaporate and they turn golden around the edges. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper then remove the skillet from the heat.

4) To strain and puree the solids: When the simmering vegetables are perfectly tender, uncover the saucepan and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Working in batches, ladle the soup into a large wire sieve, positioned over a large bowl and puree the solids with some of the liquid in a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, or in a heavy-duty blender. (If using a blender, it’s not safe to fill the container more than half-full with a hot substance, so do this in several small batches.) When smooth, empty each batch of puree into another bowl and continue until you’ve finished processing all of the solids. (You’ll end up with one large bowl of puree and another of stock.)

5) To finish the soup and replenish your stock supply: First separate the chicken meat from the skin and bones and tear the meat into bite-size chunks. Set aside. Return the chicken bones, including the skin and all other parts, to the pot of poaching ingredients (feel free to throw any stray chicken backs or necks, from the freezer, into the pot, as well) and bring the liquid back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the liquid for an hour or two, occasionally pressing down on the solids. When done, strain and chill the liquid, covered, so the fat can rise and be removed. Freeze the chicken stock, in labeled containers, for another day.

Meanwhile, wipe out the pot used to simmer the soup and pour in the pureed vegetables. Add enough of the stock to reach the desired consistency and divide any excess stock into 1-or 2- cup increments and freeze, to use as a cooing liquid for rice (labeled “curried chicken stock”). Stir the peas, cooked chicken, sautéed mushrooms and crème fraiche into the soup and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper.

6) To toast the pumpkin seeds: Line a plate with a doubled sheet of paper towels and set it aside. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, and when hot and bubbling, add the pumpkin seeds. Raise the heat to medium-high and toast the seeds, stirring constantly, until nicely colored, about 4 minutes. If the seeds start jumping or coloring too fast, reduce the heat and keep stirring, to prevent overexposure to heat in any one spot. When satisfied with their color, immediately pour the seeds onto the paper towels. Shimmy the plate, to help remove any excess butter, then transfer the seeds to a bowl and sprinkle them with some fine salt, to taste. Stir the seeds to disperse the salt. Keep the seeds at room temperature, until serving. (To keep leftovers tasting fresh, store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator and warm them briefly, in a low oven or in the microwave.)

7) To serve: Reheat the soup gently until piping hot, and serve ladled into warmed soup bowls, garnished with some toasted pepitas. Pass extra toasted seeds at the table.

Timing is Everything:

  • The chicken can be poached and the meat removed from the skin and bones, one day ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered.
  • The soup can be fully assembled two days ahead and kept refrigerated, securely covered. The soup can also be frozen, for several months, when stored in labeled heavy-duty freezer containers.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the poached chicken (if using):

  • 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, scrubbed, root end removed, and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced with leaves
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
  • 1 parsnip, scrubbed and sliced
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 whole chickens (3 pounds each), halved down the back, reserving the necks and giblets (no liver)

For the soup:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced to measure 6 generous cups (use the whites and light green)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (if desired, leave in some seeds for extra heat)
  • 2 large butternut squash (about 5 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
  • 2 medium-large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 generous tablespoons curry powder (preferably Madras)
  • 3 1/2 quarts (14 cups) Chicken Stock or doctored, best-quality, low-sodium canned broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) thick crème fraiche
  • 10 ounces frozen peas, thawed

For the toasted pumpkin seed garnish:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Salt, to taste

From the produce and meat section:

Only if adding poached chicken:

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • head celery
  • 1 parsnip
  • flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 whole chickens
  • 3 pounds each
  • halved and necks and gizzards reserved (no liver)

If not including the poached chicken, you’ll still need:

  • 1 large yellow onion (if poaching chicken you’ll need 2)
  • 4 large leeks
  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers
  • 2 large butternut squash (about 5 pounds)
  • 2 medium-large Golden Delicious apples
  • 2 Idaho potatoes
  • 2 ½ pounds button mushrooms

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Whole black peppercorns
  • 3 ½ quarts best-quality, low-sodium chicken broth (homemade stock is always preferable)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Curry powder (Madras is the brand I use)
  • Raw hulled pumpkin seeds

From the dairy case:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Crème fraiche

From the frozen section:

  • Green peas (10 ounce box)

Comments (3)